Coach’s Challenge for August 21, 2006

Good morning, team,

This week’s challenge comes from a quote in one of my favorite books about management and leadership, “The One Thing You Need to Know,” by Marcus Buckingham:

“Mediocre managers play checkers with their people (vs. chess). In checkers the pieces all move in the same way, whereas in chess all the pieces move differently. Thus, if you want to excel at the game of chess, you have to learn how each piece moves, and then incorporate these unique moves into your overall plan of attack. Mediocre managers assume (or hope) that their employees will be motivated by the same things, driven by the same goals, desire the same kind of relationships, and learn in roughly the same way.

“They probably wouldn’t say it as as boldly as I have just done, but their approach to managing gives it away. When they set expectations for their people, they define in great detail the exact behaviors they expect to see. When they coach their people, they identify which of these behaviors each employee is struggling with, and then tell the employee to work on these behaviors and practice them until they become habit. When they praise people, they are most impressed by employees who have worked diligently to replace their natural style with these present behaviors. In short, they believe that the job of the manager is to mold, or transform, each employee into the perfect version of the role. Great managers don’t. They do the opposite. The one thing all great managers know about great managing is this:

“Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.

“They know that even if employees are selected against the same set of talents or competencies, such is the complexity of human nature that the differences among these employees will far outweigh the similarities. The more one listens to the testimony of great managers, the clearer it becomes: Great managing is not about transformation-if you dedicate yourself to transforming each employee into some predetermined perfect version of the role, you will wind up frustrating yourself and annoying the employee. Great managing is about release. It is about constantly tweaking the world so that the unique contribution, the unique needs, the unique style of each employee can be given free rein.”

Your challenge is to identify what is unique about each of your team members and to support that in your management style. Try supporting all your employees’ unique strengths and allowing them to do what they do best. Get out of the way of your people’s progress. Let them take ownership where they want to. Try not to force your team into looking and acting the way you want them to. Assist them in identifying their strengths and allow them to work in the areas they enjoy the most.

Have a great week!
Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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